APhA student pharmacists, federal health agencies join forces to expand safe medication outreach effort

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The student chapter of the nation’s oldest national pharmacists’ organization has teamed up with the federal government to launch a new outreach effort for improving medication safety.

The new collaboration, announced Thursday, brings together the American Pharmacists Association's Academy of Student Pharmacists, the Pharmacy Services Support Center of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office of Pharmacy Affairs, and the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Special Health Issues. The initiative, called Project CHANCE, which is an acronym for Chapters Helping Advocate for Needy Communities Everywhere, is designed to increase awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities.

To that end, student pharmacists will work with those federal agencies to increase lower-income Americans’ education and awareness of the pharmacist’s role in the healthcare system, according to the APhA.

Project CHANCE was first rolled out in 2004, two years after the inception of the Pharmacy Services Support Center. It provides student pharmacists “with the opportunity to develop a community outreach project that delivers comprehensive pharmacy services” under a federally funded project, and to raise awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities, the APhA reported Thursday.

The newest CHANCE outreach campaign builds on the success of that original initiative with support from the PSSC and the FDA, said APhA spokeswoman Michelle Fritts. The project, she stated, has been “expanded to include raising awareness of safe medication practices in underserved communities and promoting interprofessional collaboration among student healthcare professionals.”

APhA is inviting all its student chapters to submit proposals for new Project CHANCE initiatives, with a deadline of Feb. 11. Up to five APhA-ASP chapters will receive a $10,000 award to implement a year-long project, according to Fritts.

Those proposals should focus on one or more of the following objectives, according to the APhA:

  • Raising medication safety awareness in underserved communities;

  • Improving ways to understand, report, manage and communicate risk in ways that protect patients;

  • Developing a collaborative and interdisciplinary team of student healthcare providers;

  • Making a positive impact on the lives of patients;

  • Increasing awareness among pharmacists, student pharmacists and other healthcare providers about federally approved 340B-eligible health provider entities and caring for the medically underserved;

  • Educating student pharmacists on the development and implementation of a year-round patient care program; and

  • Promoting the profession of pharmacy and its role in the community and the healthcare delivery system.

“APhA-ASP is excited to offer this opportunity, which not only allows student pharmacists to make a difference in their local communities by assisting the medically underserved, but [also] to increase communication and build alliances with other student healthcare professionals via a patient-centered model of health care,” said Steven Zona, APhA-ASP national president.

“Through our involvement with the HRSA Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services collaborative, we have seen the direct impact that can be made when clinical pharmacy services are applied to patient-centered care with a collaborative, team approach,” added Lisa Scholz, VP of APhA’s Pharmacy Services Support Center/ IQ Institute.

“Patients receiving the collaborative team approaches have seen improved health outcomes and decreased medication errors,” Scholz said. “By giving the next generation of healthcare professionals the opportunity to collaborate early in their training with other health professionals, we are helping them gain experience in collaborative, patient-centered care models for their futures in pharmacy.”

Winners will be announced during the APhA-ASP Opening General Session at the APhA2011 Annual Meeting and Exposition on March 26 in Seattle. For more information, including guidelines for Project CHANCE submissions, visit Pharmacist.com/students.

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